Review: A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman

Pub Date: March 4, 2014 | A Marian Wood Book/Putnam | Hardcover, Ebook
Acquired by: Publisher

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Genre: Historical Fiction

From the New York Times-bestselling author of Lionheart comes the dramatic sequel, telling of the last dangerous years of Richard, Couer de Lion’s life.

This long-anticipated sequel to the national bestseller Lionheart is a vivid and heart-wrenching story of the last event-filled years in the life of Richard, Coeur de Lion. Taken captive by the Holy Roman Emperor while en route home—in violation of the papal decree protecting all crusaders—he was to spend fifteen months imprisoned, much of it in the notorious fortress at Trefils, from which few men ever left alive, while Eleanor of Aquitaine moved heaven and earth to raise the exorbitant ransom.

For the five years remaining to him, betrayals, intrigues, wars, and illness were ever present. So were his infidelities, perhaps a pattern set by his father’s faithlessness to Eleanor. But the courage, compassion, and intelligence of this warrior king became the stuff of legend, and A King’s Ransom brings the man and his world fully and powerfully alive.

My Review 

Sharon Kay Penman is the ultimate writer of Historical Fiction as far as I'm concerned. As soon as one of her novels is announced I immediately pre-order it and then start counting down the days to release. When you read a Penman you know you're reading first-rate historical fiction. She nails every aspect that readers of the genre look for and sets the bar for genre standards. Once again she has worked her magic and created a stunning historical that will be on top of a lot of Best Reads lists this year.

In A King's Ransom she again brings to life Richard the Lionheart, continuing the story begun in 2011's Lionheart. Bold, brilliant, and big (over 700 pages!), this novel packs a historical punch! Richard is a larger than life character...well, being an off-spring of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II how could he not be...and Penman captures him so keenly I dare say that even he would be pleased.

I also enjoyed the parts of the novel with the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and Joanna of Sicily. If you like to read strong women, look no further than those two! 

A King's Ransom is another hit for Sharon Kay Penman and I will be awaiting her next release with much anticipation!

2014 Release: The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton

Pub Date: November 4, 3014 | NAL Trade | eBook, Paperback

In the late twelfth century, across the sweeping Mongolian grasslands, brilliant, charismatic Temujin ascends to power, declaring himself the Great, or Genghis, Khan. But it is the women who stand beside him who ensure his triumph....

After her mother foretells an ominous future for her, gifted Borte becomes an outsider within her clan. When she seeks comfort in the arms of aristocratic traveler Jamuka, she discovers he is the blood brother of Temujin, the man who agreed to marry her and then abandoned her long before they could wed.

Temujin will return and make Borte his queen, yet it will take many women to safeguard his fragile new kingdom. Their daughter, the fierce Alaqai, will ride and shoot an arrow as well as any man. Fatima, an elegant Persian captive, will transform her desire for revenge into an unbreakable loyalty. And Sorkhokhtani, a demure widow, will position her sons to inherit the empire when it begins to fracture from within.

In a world lit by fire and ruled by the sword, the tiger queens of Genghis Khan come to depend on one another as they fight and love, scheme and sacrifice, all for the good of their family...and the greatness of the People of the Felt Walls.

Last Day to Enter The Cook's Temptation Book Blast Giveaway!

Today is the last day to The Cook's Temptation Book Blast Giveaway to win an eBook of The Cook's Temptation or a $10 Amazon Gift Card! There are three prizes each up for grabs!

02_The Cook's Temptation

Publication Date: February 1, 2014 | Mosaic Press | Formats: Ebook, Paperback

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Joyce Wayne brings to life the complexities of Victorian life, first in County Devon and then in London’s East End. The ‘big picture’ is about one woman’s life, class conflict, religious intolerance, suspicion and betrayal. The central figure is Cordelia, a strong-minded Jewish woman who is caught between her desire to be true to herself and her need to be accepted by English society.Cordelia Tilley is the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Anglican father. Her mother has groomed her for a life in English society while her father, a tough publican, has shown no tolerance for his wife’s social climbing or the conceits of their perspicacious daughter. Cordelia’s mother dies from typhoid fever, she tries to run the family ‘s establishment, she falls prey to a local industrialist, she gives birth to a son, she is tormented by her husband and his family. Finally, she is rescued by suffragette friends and sets off to start a new life in London.The Cook’s Temptation is about a woman who is unpredictable, both strong and weak willed, both kind and heinous, victim and criminal. It is a genuine Victorian saga, full of detail, twists and turns, memorable scenes, full of drama and pathos.

Praise for The Cook's Temptation

“Joyce Wayne’s debut novel, The Cook's Temptation, has the stately bearing of a nineteenth century novel – the mercilessness of Thomas Hardy, the black allegory of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the tense marriages of George Eliot. It is a story of how people become what you blame them for being.” – Ian Williams, poet and fiction writer, short listed for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize

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About the Author

JW 2
Joyce Wayne has an MA in English literature, has taught journalism at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario, for twenty-five years, and lives in Toronto, Ontario. She was a winner of the Diaspora Dialogues contest for fiction and the Fiona Mee Award for literary journalism. She is the co writer of the documentary film So Far From Home (2010), a film about refugee journalists persecuted for their political views, and various of her other works have been published in Parchment, Golden Horseshoe Anthology, Canadian Voices, and TOK6.

For more information please visit Joyce Wayne's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. She is happy to participate in Books Clubs by phone and Skype.


Up for grabs are 3x eBooks of The Cook's Temptation and 3x $10 Amazon Gift Cards! To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.

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2015 Release: The Price of Blood (Emma of Normandy, Book Two) by Patricia Bracewll

2015 can't come fast enough! I was so excited to see the upcoming release of the second book in Patricia Bracewell's Emma of Normandy series, The Price of Blood, on Amazon that I think I even squealed out loud!

I read the first book, Shadow on the Crown, and it was in my top 5 reads of last year. I also had the unique pleasure of meeting Patricia at the 2013 HNS Conference and she is as lovely as she is talented!

Pub Date: February 5, 2015 | Viking Adult | Hardcover

Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure.

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.

Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

About the Author

Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. A lifelong fascination with the history of Britain and a chance, on-line reference to an unfamiliar English queen led to years of research, a summer course in Anglo-Saxon history at Cambridge University, and the penning of her debut novel Shadow on the Crown. The book was hailed as a magnificent work of historical fiction by England’s Daily Mail and an enthralling debut by Publishers Weekly.

Patricia lives with her husband in Oakland, California.

Alison Morton's Successio Book Blast + Giveaway!

Follow Alison Morton's Book Blast for SUCCESSIO, the third book in her Roma Nova Series, from June 16-27 for a chance to win your own autographed copy and bookmark!


Pub Date: June 4, 2014 | SilverWood Books | Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Alternative Historical Thriller

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Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.

She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.

Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun at the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

Praise for Successio

“If there is a world where fiction becomes more believable than reality, then Alison Morton’s ingenious thrillers must be the portal through which to travel. Following in Caesar’s footsteps, she came with INCEPTIO, saw with PERFIDITAS – and has well and truly conquered with SUCCESSIO!” – Helen Hollick, author and Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

“Alison Morton has done it again. SUCCESSIO is the latest in her series of powerful tales of family betrayals and shifting allegiances in Roma Nova. Once again, I was gripped from start to finish.” – Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster

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Roma Nova Series

Book One: Inceptio
Book Two: Perfiditas
Book Three: Successio

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About the Author

Alison MortonAlison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is currently working on the fourth book.

Connect with Alison Morton

Amazon UK Author Page
Amazon US Author Page
INCEPTIO Facebook Page
PERFIDITAS Facebook Page

Follow the Successio Book Blast

June 16: Flashlight Commentary & Princess of Eboli
June 17: Kincavel Korner, Mina's Bookshelf, & Literary Chanteuse
June 18: Kinx's Book Nook & Svetlana's Reads and Views
June 19: So Many Books, So Little Time, The Lit Bitch, & West Metro Mommy
June 20: Historical Fiction Obsession
June 21: A Bookish Affair & Broken Teepee
June 22: Just One More Chapter
June 23: The Little Reader Library & The True Book Addict
June 24: A Bibliotaph's Reviews & Historical Fiction Connection
June 25: Historical Tapestry & The Maiden's Court
June 26: Book Nerd & Passages to the Past
June 27: CelticLady's Reviews


To win an Autographed copy of SUCCESSIO & Bookmark please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLYy.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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Guest Post by Juliet Waldron + $20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Today on Passages to the Past I am pleased to be hosting author Juliet Waldron with a guest post and excerpt of her novel Roan Rose!

Anne Neville—Character blog

Today Rose was married. So, after these sickly, anxious months since I was saved, she and I are once—and perhaps for all--parted. She and her husband Fletcher have gone north with others of Duke Richard’s servants, all of them for Middleham keep. How strange to think the castle where I spent so much of my childhood is now Richard’s! And how terrible to think that this has come to pass because my great father Warwick and the Prince of Lancaster, my young husband, have been slain! In rebellion, we Nevilles have lost our lands and honors.

So much has happened—my father changing his allegiance from White Rose to Red, my marriage to Edward—oh Edward, so handsome, so charming! There have been terrifying sea voyages, the dark webs of the Court of France, and then the battles. I have seen so much death, more than I could ever have imagined. I have seen horrors--the heads of men I knew--rotting upon spikes.

Here on earth, I have had a glimpse of hell, filled with monsters who aped men. I have entered the heat, smoke and grease of kitchens—and of far worse places of which I shall never speak. I’ve heard people say unutterable things as if they were common-place—and in their low, filthy, sinful world, perhaps they are. I have prayed on my knees for months now, telling Hail Mary, but if I did this for the rest of my life it would not pay the debt I owe The Blessed Mother for saving me from the oubliette to which my brother-in-law had consigned me. With Her Divine Hand aiding my dear cousin, the Duke of Gloucester, I have fetched up in this holy place, a survivor of the shipwreck of my father’s ambition.

Ladies Margaret and Grace, sent by my mother from Beaulieu, are again by my side, so I shall not lack for company and good service. Still, I shall ever miss my Rosie. She and I have been together for so many years, since my Countess mother brought her, so solemn and freckled, home to serve me. Rose was my handmaid, my nurse, my sweet bedmate who kept me safe from the Nightmare, who faithfully nursed me when I was sick. Rose kept all my secrets, until I learned to keep them for myself. And once more she has healed me. Together we have seen so many terrors-- the folly and evil of war, and the end of childhood.

Yes, I shall miss Rose very much, but as my mother has so often insisted, it is past time for her to live in her world and me to live in mine. All the old nursery comforts must be put aside. I shall be married to Richard, as I’d always hoped, whenever the King sees fit to let that happen. If my lord and I are to be content, Rose must be sent away, not only for her future good, but for our own.

Roan Rose - Excerpt

At this juncture, I suddenly took it into my head that Richard had received permission from the king to marry Anne.  Oh, to escape the confines St. Martin's and return to Middleham and our wide Yorkshire sky! Thrilled by the idea, I colored.
            Richard noticed my blush. "Do you anticipate me, Rose?" A servant had appeared, carrying a silver basin. He began to wash his hands in the scented water.
            "I do not know, my Lord of Gloucester, but I do pray we shall soon make return to Middleham."
            He dried his hands upon a towel presented by another servant and then motioned them both away. "Do you speak of my marriage to your lady?"
            "I pray that is the matter, Milord."
            "I pray that it were. However, it is of your marriage I wish to speak."
            You could have knocked me over with a feather. My jaw sagged.
            "Yes. When the Countess of Warwick long ago took you to service, she promised your mother that in time she would provide you with a dower and a worthy husband. She is not able to complete her promise and this disturbs her. Among other things, she writes to me of this." A jeweled hand waved for confirmation to Kendall, who gravely nodded.
            "This is of no consequence to me, My Lord. As long as I serve my dear lady, I am content."
            "The Countess of Warwick, however, is not." Richard leaned back in his chair, trying on amusement. "Do you hear this, Kendall? Here stands a young woman who does not wish to be well married."
            "Perhaps we should call the harper back?" Kendall obliged with a smile. "There's certainly a song in this, Your Grace."
            "I know a stout fellow who wishes to marry with you, Mistress Rose, who petitions me for your hand."
            Richard smiled. It was a lord's smile, reassurance and guidance aimed at me, his rudderless dependent.
            "He is a man of appropriate substance, a soldier of confirmed bravery who had done me excellent service. Moreover, you owe him your life."
            "Master Fletcher dares to speak of this to you, My Lord?" At last, I'd found my tongue.
            Richard nodded. The smile stayed firmly in place, but I noticed that he’d begun to twist one of his rings.
            "Daily he pleads his case." Kendall spoke for his master.
            "But—but, Sir! I—I—have refused Master Hugh."
            "Come, come, Rose," said Richard. "To marry is an act of prudence. Better to marry than to burn."

Pub Date: October 1, 2013 | Books We Love, Ltd. | Formats: eBook, Paperback

Loyalty Binds Her.

More like a gangland war for turf and loot than chivalry, the War of Roses disrupted the life of the English commoners for hundreds of years. Roan Rose is the story of one of them, a girl born on the Yorkshire dales. When the Countess of Warwick decides to take sturdy, gentle Rose to Middleham Castle to be companion and bed-time poppet for her youngest daughter, Anne, her fate is changed forever. Rose bears intimate witness to the passions, betrayals, battles and all the reversals of fortune which will shape her lady’s life—and her own. Anne Neville will briefly become a Queen, and Richard, Rose’s secret love, will become a King, one whose name has become synonymous with evil. When her King is betrayed and slain at Bosworth Field, Rose returns to a peasant’s hard life. She has one final service to perform.

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Praise for Roan Rose

"a beautiful story of love and loyalty set during the tumultuous reign of Richard III"

"I loved the strength of this woman"

"This author has a powerful sense of Time and Place"

"Waldron certainly knows her history…Yet despite its accuracy … Roan Rose is ultimately a book about character".

Buy the Book

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About the Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA"Not all who wander are lost." Juliet Waldron earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist's model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after the boys left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine time travel experience for herself--and for her readers. She loves her grand-girls and her kitties, likes to take long hikes, and reads historical/archeological non-fiction as well as reviewing for the Historical Novel Society. For summer adventure, she rides behind her husband of 50 years on his "bucket list" (black, and ridiculously fast) Hyabusa motorcycle.

You can find more information at or connect with Juliet on Facebook.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 5
Interview at Layered Pages

Thursday, May 8
Review at Just One More Chapter (Mozart's Wife)

Friday, May 9
Spotlight at Closed the Cover (Genesee)

Monday, May 12
Review at Closed the Cover (Genesee)
Spotlight at Tower of Babel

Monday, May 19
Interview at Closed the Cover

Wednesday, May 21
Interview at The Maiden's Court

Monday, May 26
Review at Book Lovers Paradise (Mozart's Wife)

Tuesday, May 27
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (Genesee)
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise (w/Kathy Fischer-Brown and Louise Turner)

Monday, June 2
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Nightingale)

Tuesday, June 3
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (Roan Rose)

Thursday, June 5
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views (Mozart's Wife)

Monday, June 9
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Roan Rose)

Tuesday, June 10
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views (Nightingale)

Thursday, June 12
Guest Post at Closed the Cover

Monday, June 16
Review at Just One More Chapter (Roan Rose)

Tuesday, June 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Mozart's Wife)

Monday, June 23
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Mozart's Wife)

Tuesday, June 24
Review at A Bookish Affair (Mozart's Wife)

Wednesday, June 25
Review at Layered Pages (Nightingale)

Thursday, June 26
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Roan Rose)

Friday, June 27
Review at Broken Teepee (Mozart's Wife)

Saturday, June 28
Review at WTF Are You Reading? (Mozart's Wife)

Monday, June 30
Review at The True Book Addict (Mozart's Wife)
Review at WTF Are You Reading? (Nightingale)


To win a $20 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

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Excerpt & Giveaway: Tempesta's Dream by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

Today on the blog I have an Excerpt & Giveaway of Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco's historical novel Tempesta's Dream! Chip is currently on tour with HF Virtual Book Tours, be sure to check out the schedule of stops below. I hope you enjoy the excerpt & be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.


veryone doubted that he would ever return to her. After all, he was an American sailor and it was well known fact that those sailors always had a different girl in every port. It was thought by others that she was just another young girl abandoned by her American sailor.
Yet, she thought differently. She had given up her own family and even her own religion to marry him. She always believed that he would come back to her. But time passed and he had not returned.
As she sat on the floor of the living room of her sparsely furnished hilltop home, her blue eyed, curly blonde haired, three-year-old son played with his toy model of an American ship. This was their child, but her sailor had no idea, as she discovered the pregnancy after he had left her side, not long after their wedding night.
While sitting with her son, her thoughts floated back to the night she married Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton of the United States Navy. They were wed, under the stars, on the hilltop overlooking Nagasaki harbor. She was so nervous that night, yet his tender, passionate words melted away all of her fears.
She always remembered with affection the words he told her that night as he pulled her close and kissed her.  All of the doubters never heard what he told her as he held her tight. That was why they never believed he would come back to her. But she knew better. He loved her. He would return. He promised her.
She dreamed often of that “un bel di” (one fine day), when she would gaze down upon the harbor from her hilltop home and see her sailor’s white warship, the Abraham Lincoln, enter Nagasaki harbor, flying the flag of the United States. Then her sailor, her husband, would walk up the winding uphill path to her little house, grab her in his arms and take her and their son back to America, together.
He promised her he would return.
But that was three years ago. And he had not returned. She was now poor, abandoned by her family and trying to raise her son. Her faithful maid, Suzuki, had stayed with her all these years. However, even Suzuki grew concerned for her mistress.
Suzuki tried to convince the young girl to return to her days as a Geisha. But the young girl defiantly stated that she would rather die than go back to the life she led prior to marrying her sailor. Those close to her were still trying to make her see that he would never return and that she should find someone else. Yet, she still waited; waited for his return.
Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the thundering sound of a canon shot from the harbor. Suzuki rushed into the living room where mother and son were and said breathlessly:

Il cannone del  porto!              The cannon of the port!          

The young girl sat motionless on the floor, as Suzuki ran toward the terrace and looked down toward the harbor. Suzuki quickly turned and came back inside the living room, saying with excitement:

Una nave da guerra.               It is a warship.

The young girl quickly got up from the floor, swept her son up into her arms, and scrambled toward the terrace. Suzuki followed closely behind.
For three years this is how it played out whenever a ship entered the harbor, as the young mother, holding tightly to her son, scanned the horizon to see the color and flag of the ship entering the harbor, only to have her dreams shattered once it was discovered that it was not her sailor’s ship.
Standing on the terrace, the young girl looked down toward the harbor. As she saw the ship for the first time, she spoke out loud to her son, almost in disbelief:

Bianca. Bianca.                       It is White. White.
Il vessillo Americano               The American Flag
delle stelle.                               with the stars.

With her anticipation building, she put her son down and ran over to a telescope that was permanently set up on the terrace and which always pointed down toward the harbor. With Suzuki steadying her hand on the telescope, the young girl squinted tightly to get a better view of the ship.
The ship began to drop its anchor. The young girl strained to see the name of the ship. Unable to contain herself, she blurted out, as if she was commanding the telescope itself to speak:

Il nome! Il nome!                     The name! The name!
Il nome!                                   The name!

Looking through the telescope, she scanned back and forth until she was finally able to locate the name written on the side of the ship. As it came into view, she said:

Eccolo.                                    Here it is.

And then, with utter jubilation, she said the name of the ship:

Abramo Lincoln!                     Abraham Lincoln!

Tears began streaming down her face. She fell to the ground and buried her face into her hands, overcome with emotion. Her young son got up and came over to her, grabbing her tightly from behind. She picked her head up, turned to her son, and then, as if in defiance of the last three years that she had waited, and with a feeling of vindication, she repeated, choked with tears:

È giunto!                                 He has come.
È giunto!                                 He has come.
È giunto!                                 He has come.

She then outstretched her arms, and exclaimed:

Ei torna                                   He has returned
e m’ama!                                 and he loves me!

As the church bell from the nearby Duomo, the Cathedral in Milan, tolled midnight, Franco Tempesta stopped reading. Tears were running down his cheeks as he placed the libretto of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madama Butterfly, on the nightstand next to his eight-year-old son’s bed. Wiping the tears away, he said, “This is a good stopping point tonight, Giovanni.”
Giovanni Tempesta loved how every night his father would take an opera libretto and make it into a bedtime story. Unlike other kids, Giovanni’s father did not read nursery rhymes to his son at bedtime, but instead read opera librettos to him, relating to his young son the great stories and legends of operas written centuries ago. Young Giovanni quickly became fascinated with the stories his father told him. When his father reached a part in the libretto where an aria would be sung, Franco gently hummed the aria to his son.


Tempesta's Dream 

Pub Date: September 26, 2013 | Cefalutana Press | Formats: eBook, Paperback

Tempesta's Dream is the story of an aspiring opera singer coming of age in Milan; a tender and moving love story; a testament to the bonds of friendship; and, at its core, a tribute to the beauty, majesty and miracle of opera.

Giovanni Tempesta always dreamed of becoming an opera tenor and one day singing from the stage of the La Scala Opera House in his hometown of Milan, Italy. But with no real training, his dream has little chance for fulfillment . . . One day, he meets and immediately falls in love with Isabella Monterone, a dark-haired beauty, whose father, a very rich and powerful Milanese Judge, refuses to allow his daughter to date a penniless musician . . . At the lowest part of his life, Giovanni comes upon the Casa di Riposo, a rest home for musicians established by the great opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi . . . It is at the Casa Verdi that Giovanni meets Alfredo del Monte, a blind, retired opera singer with a secretive past who gradually becomes his mentor . . . Could Alfredo be the one person who could assist Giovanni in finding the break he needs? Or is Giovanni destined to be on the cusp of reaching his life long dream, only to find failure? . . . Tempesta's Dream, at its core, is an Italian opera love story. The author tells the story simply and swiftly with an ending that is both an emotional and poignant moment of both "amicizia e amore" (friendship and love.)

Praise for Tempesta's Dream

“The novel has enormous heart and a few times my eyes filled with tears. I was vividly involved with this young tenor, his dreams, and the wonderful old man who taught him. It is not an easy thing to convey the passion for song. However, the way the author did it, I could physically feel the young tenor singing and hear his voice.” -Stephanie Cowell, Author of Marrying Mozart

“The story holds charm and appeal. There is beauty in the depiction of the relationship between Giovanni and Isabella, as well as in the bond between Alfredo and the young tenor. Giovanni, Isabella and Alfredo will remain in ‘memoria mia’ for years to come.” -George Shirley, Tenor, University of Michigan Emeritus Professor of Music (Voice)

“Within a very moving story of romance and friendship, the author has created a realistic portrait of a young singer’s pursuit of an operatic career. This lovely tale allows one to acquire an understanding of and an affection for opera.” -Audrey Schuh Redmann, Soprano

“This novel is a thorough pleasure.” -Christina Vella, Author of Intimate Enemies, The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba

“The story surprised me and involved me. The development of the book was very intriguing and moving.” -Cecilia Gobbi, founder of the Associazione Musicale Tito Gobbi, an organization devoted to preserving and celebrating the record of her famous baritone father’s contribution to opera

“What a story! Quite possibly, the best novel about opera I have ever read. The passion of opera pulsates throughout the entire novel. Highly recommended.” -John Gehl, Opera historian and the only American collaborator on The Oxford Concise Encyclopedia of Opera

“The author’s contagious love of opera and his faith in human decency sing through this loveable page-turner of a story.” -Susan Nicassio, Author of Tosca’s Rome

"An intelligent and entertaining lyrical journey . . . A rare, beautiful story with passion and opera pulsating through each page. LoCoco has woven a unique novel with exceptionally developed characters, realistic dialogue and a well-balanced narrative." -Penn Book Review

"A Powerful novel . . . Tempesta's Dream is all about the music, it's all about the passion; and it's all about pursuing one's dream . . .a moving, engrossing story." - D. Donovan, Ebook Reviewer, MidWest Book Review

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About the Author

Vincent Chip LoCocoChip LoCoco was born and raised in New Orleans. He is an attorney, with an emphasis on estate planning. A lifelong lover of music, Chip's passion for opera dates back many years now. He has seen operas all over the world at some of the greatest opera houses. Chip has been asked to give talks on opera as well as the Sicilian-American culture of New Orleans.

Chip's second novel, Bellafortuna, has been named a Short List Finalist in the William Faulkner Writing Competition. A date for publication has not been set yet for his second novel.

Chip is married to his wife of 15 years, Wendy. They have two children, Matthew and Ellie and a beagle, named Scout. They reside in their beloved city of New Orleans, where if you try to find them on a Sunday in the Fall, they will be somewhere rooting on their Saints.

For more information please visit Chip LoCoco's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Follow Tempesta's Dream Blog Tour

Tuesday, June 24
Excerpt & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 25
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, June 30
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, July 1
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, July 7
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, July 10
Guest Post at I'd Rather Be Reading

Friday, July 11
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, July 15
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, July 16
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Friday, July 18
Review at Literary Chanteuse

Monday, July 21
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading


To win a copy of Tempesta's Dream please enter the giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents and ends on July 3rd.

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Guest Post by Kathy Fischer-Brown + $20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Today I have a great guest post from Kathy Fischer-Brown to share with you! In honor of her Blog Tour she is also sponsoring a $20 Amazon Gift Card giveaway!

Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter
Arthur Darvey: The Character in His Own Words

I am not a monster. Like anyone else, I have feelings. Sometimes I act upon them. But that does not make me a monster!

Once my life was pleasant. I lived at “the hall.” Ours was a life of ease and extravagance, and I wanted for nothing. And then one day, he began to cast aspersions on dear Mama. He said he had reason to believe that I, who adored him, was not his son. He said their marriage was a sham and had been forced upon him, that he was legally wed to another—albeit in a tawdry Fleet Street wedding, without bans or a license—and that he’d been deceived into thinking the wretched woman was dead.

It all came to a head when his meddling lackey, Francis Marlowe, discovered the whereabouts of this woman and her bantling girl, Anne, who, he insisted was his child by that dubious union. Papa, Lord Esterleigh, petitioned for a divorce, though Mama had connections of her own in high places. She told him she would not settle without first dragging his name and reputation through the mud.

While the battle dragged on and on in the halls of Parliament, Mama took me to live at rundown, draughty old Wollascott Cottage. I hated it there. And then she—the bastard—came to live in my home…as his daughter…with all the benefits and advantages that once had been mine. It seems her mother had died and she’d nowhere else to go.

Was I wrong to feel rejected, unloved? While she—ingrate that she was—appreciated none of his largesse. Oh, she languished—poor Anne—mourning her mother’s death, harboring ill will for our father….

Before ever setting eyes on the bitch, I detested her. I dreamed of hurting her … and worse. But I was a child then and can hardly be held accountable for childish thoughts and dreams.

I must admit I was frightful at our first meeting. I was bored. Was it my fault? The encounter was unexpected, and I was not at my best. I‘d been having a bit of sport with my arrows and a mangy cur of a stray dog. Who cares about such things, anyway? But she took offense. Who could have imagined a low-born chit such as she to have been endowed with a bleeding heart?

Years passed before we were to meet again. At a masked ball at Carlisle House in February of ‘73. She was far more trusting and naive than I ever expected. I was overjoyed to find her so accommodating.

I could have killed her that night. I had my hands around her throat. And what a slender neck …. I could have snapped it like a twig. But I was a cat toying with a mouse, and it invigorated me. I do believe I frightened her.

The time will come, though. I swear on my mother’s name. The time will come when I take my revenge on Lord Esterleigh’s daughter … and when I do, what larks we will have.

 Pub Date: June 13, 2012 Books We Love Ltd. Formats: eBook, Paperback

As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Excerpt from Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter

“’Tis a pity you must cover that costume,” Arthur said, as a burst of fireworks lit up the sky, its colors flashing across his masked face. “I admire a woman who’s not ashamed to reveal her figure as it was meant to be, not all hooped and corseted. It’s unnatural, don’t you agree?”

Anne pulled the palla tight around herself and fastened it with a brooch. Squaring her shoulders, she refused to give in to the echoes of her own anxious thoughts.

“But do let us guess,” Arthur ventured, his tone brightening. “We are Aphrodite tonight, goddess of erotic love. No, not Aphrodite! What would my innocent sister know of such things? A Vestal Virgin? Oh, do give us a hint or we shan’t be able to catch a wink of sleep tonight!”

The sky exploded again with a long succession of light and sound, as the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and the whir of wheels on pavement approached.

“Non dolet,” Anne said, as Arthur handed her into the conveyance.

“Non dolet? ‘It doesn’t hurt?’ What is that supposed to signify? Just drive on until I tell you to stop,” he said to his man, “then set us down back here.” He climbed in and settled beside her on the seat of the post chaise. “Non dolet…. Who was it said that now? If I’m not mistaken, it was Arria, wife of Claudius Paetus, a senator or something or other. He was condemned to death by Claudius…or was it Nero? For treason or something…and when the centurion presented his sword to Paetus, the senator faltered in fear. Arria snatched the sword from the centurion, and before anyone could stop her, this devoted and loving wife plunged it into her breast. She then handed the bloody sword to her husband, and said with her dying breath, ‘Paete, non dolet.’”

Anne pulled down the leather window shade and watched the lights and illuminations of Carlisle House recede into the night. Arthur leaned across her and pulled it back up, making him one with the shadows.

“We mustn’t take chances,” he explained, removing his hood and mask. “Someone might arrive at the wrong conclusion.” His face shone pale in the darkness.

“Now, tell me, dear sister,” Arthur said, assuming a cheerful note. “Do you believe all that nonsense, that it doesn’t hurt to have a sword rammed into your chest?”

“I wouldn’t know.” She forced her voice past the tension in her throat.

He laughed softly. “Of course you wouldn’t.” He continued in a glib voice. “But imagine, if you will…razor-sharp steel slicing through flesh, muscle, bone.

Slashing through everything in its path as it plunges straight and true into your heart. Oh, to think of all the blood! You’ve no doubt suffered a cut on your finger. It hurts, and it bleeds…sometimes profusely, doesn’t it? Imagine the pain and blood magnified tenfold. Imagine…. Ah, but we are not here to discuss such esoteric matters now, are we? My sister grows uneasy at the mention of pain and blood!”

She turned from the window and pushed up her mask. Even in the darkness, his mocking smile gripped her with a palpable chill. He’s testing me. She swallowed hard. “What is it you want, Arthur?”

“I? I thought it was you who wanted something of me.”

“You were staring at me in there!”

“I’ve already said, that costume of yours is…beguiling. You’ve grown quite lovely.”

“You knew who I was before you approached, didn’t you?”

“I was waiting for you. You arrived late.”

“You…knew I was coming?” The revelation filled her with uneasiness.

“I was aware that Captain Michael Ellerdine had procured three tickets on the fifth of January.” Her stunned silence elicited a burst of muffled laughter. “I know where you were and who you were with on any given day since the latter part of October. I have it all written down. Does this amaze you?”

Her eyes stung.

“I see it does.”

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About the Author

03_Kathy Fischer-BrownAs a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

For more information visit Kathy Fischer-Brown's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 5
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)

Tuesday, May 13
Excerpt at The Bookworm

Friday, May 16
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 19
Review at Just One More Chapter (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)

Tuesday, May 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, May 27
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise (with Louise Turner and Juliet Waldron)

Monday, June 9
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, June 12
Review at Book Nerd (Winter Fire)

Tuesday, June 17
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)

Wednesday, June 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Winter Fire)

Monday, June 23
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 25
Review at Closed the Cover (Winter Fire)

Monday, June 30
Review at Book Nerd (Courting the Devil)


To win a $20 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

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Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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2014 Releases...Break out the Wishlists!

Pub Date: October 1, 2014 | Lake Union Publishing | eBook, Paperback

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

Pub Date: August 26, 2014 | Plume | eBook, Paperback

As the Great War rages, an independent young woman struggles to sustain love—and life—through the power of words.

It’s 1917 and America is on the brink of World War I. After Hensley Dench’s father is forced to resign from the New York Times for his anti-war writings, she finds herself expelled from the life she loves and the future she thought she would have. Instead, Hensley is transplanted to New Mexico, where her father has taken a job overseeing a gold mine. Driven by loneliness, Hensley hijacks her father’s correspondence with Charles Reid, a young American medic with whom her father plays chess via post. Hensley secretly begins her own exchange with Charles, but looming tragedy threatens them both, and—when everything turns against them—will their words be enough to beat the odds?

Pub Date: September 9, 2014 | Touchstone | eBook, Hardcover

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the Starz original series The White Queen comes the story of lady-in-waiting Margaret Pole and her unique view of King Henry VIII’s stratospheric rise to power in Tudor England.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

Pub Date: October 16, 2014 | Overlook | eBook, Paperback

In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arse-nic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick. The “Maybrick Mystery” had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumors of gambling and debt; and tor-rid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence’s past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud’s.

Florence’s fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous in-fidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James’ own habit of self-medicating to blame for his de-mise? Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, “Did she kill him?”

Pub Date: October 28, 2014 | Nan A. Talese | eBook, Hardcover

An engrossing and revolutionary biography of Isabella of Castile, the controversial Queen of Spain who sponsored Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World, established the Spanish Inquisition, and became one of the most influential female rulers in history.

Born at a time when Christianity was dying out and the Ottoman Empire was aggressively expanding, Isabella was inspired in her youth by tales of Joan of Arc, a devout young woman who unified her people and led them to victory against foreign invaders. In 1474, when most women were almost powerless, twenty-three-year-old Isabella defied a hostile brother and mercurial husband to seize control of Castile and León. Her subsequent feats were legendary. She ended a twenty-four-generation struggle between Muslims and Christians, forcing North African invaders back over the Mediterranean Sea. She laid the foundation for a unified Spain. She sponsored Columbus's trip to the Indies and negotiated Spanish control over much of the New World with the help of Rodrigo Borgia, the infamous Pope Alexander VI. She also annihilated all who stood against her by establishing a bloody religious Inquisition that would darken Spain's reputation for centuries. Whether saintly or satanic, no female leader has done more to shape our modern world, where millions of people in two hemispheres speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Yet history has all but forgotten Isabella's influence, due to hundreds of years of misreporting that often attributed her accomplishments to Ferdinand, the bold and philandering husband she adored. Using new scholarship, Downey's luminous biography tells the story of this brilliant, fervent, forgotten woman, the faith that propelled her through life, and the land of ancient conflicts and intrigue she brought under her command.

Pub Date: October 15, 2014 | Pegasus | Hardcover

From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to the cosy crimes of the Golden Age, renowned historian Lucy Worsley explores the evolution of the traditional English murder—and reveals why we are so fascinated by this sinister subject.

Murder—a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves?

In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria’s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since.

The Art of the English Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime—and a riveting investigation into the English criminal soul by one of our finest historians. 24 pages of color and B&W illustrations.

Pub Date: October 14, 2014 | Minotaur Books | eBook, Hardcover, Audio

After an odd encounter at a grand masquerade ball, Lady Emily becomes embroiled in the murder investigation of one of the guests, a sometime actress trying to pass herself off as the mysterious heiress and world traveler Estella Lamar. Each small discovery, however, leads to more questions. Was the intended victim Miss Lamar or the imposter? And who would want either of them dead?

As Emily and Colin try to make sense of all this, a larger puzzle begins to emerge: No one has actually seen Estella Lamar in years, since her only contact has been through letters and the occasional blurry news photograph. Is she even alive? Emily and Colin’s investigation of this double mystery takes them from London to Paris, where, along with their friend Cécile, they must scour the darkest corners of the city in search of the truth.

Pub Date: August 12, 2014 | Bloomsbury USA | eBook, Hardcover

It is the age of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, when Europe burns with a passion for long-flowing locks. And when seven sisters, born into fatherless poverty in Ireland, grow up with hair cascading down their backs, to their ankles, and beyond, men are not slow to recognise their potential. It begins with a singing and dancing septet, with Irish jigs kicked out in dusty church halls. But it is not the sisters' singing or their dancing that fills the seats: it is the torrents of hair they let loose at the end of each show. And their hair will take dark-hearted Darcy, bickering twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida and fearful, flame-haired Manticory - the inimitable narrator of their on-and-off stage adventures - out of poverty, through the dance halls of Ireland, to the salons of Dublin and the palazzi of Venice. It will bring some of them love and each of them loss. For their past trails behind the sisters like the tresses on their heads, and their fame and fortune will come at a terrible price...

Pub Date: July 1, 2014 | NAL Trade | eBook, Paperback

A historical novel based on the life of Mary Rowlandson

“An authentic drama of Indian captivity…A compelling, emotionally gripping tale.”—Eliot Pattison, author of the Mystery of Colonial America series.

She suspects that she has changed too much to ever fit easily into English society again. The wilderness has now become her home. She can interpret the cries of birds. She has seen vistas that have stolen away her breath. She has learned to live in a new, free way....

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson was captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.

Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance.
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